More than 150 people attended the first ever Place Yorkshire conference. Credit: PY

Yorkshire Emerging Development Hotspots: Summary, slides + photos

There was a packed room at Horizon Leeds for the inaugural Place Yorkshire conference where delegates travelled from far and wide to discover what’s new and upcoming.

Hosted by Neil Tague of Place Yorkshire, the event was sponsored by WSP, Overford, AB Finance and Henry Boot Construction.

Housing goals

Martin Farrington, director of city development at Leeds City Council, started a showcase of the city with a quote from Michael Gove, Levelling Up secretary, when he announced the Leeds Transformational Regeneration Partnership. “Together, government and local partners will unlock the delivery of up to 20,000 additional homes in Leeds.”

Download Leeds City Council presentation

Leeds’ Martin Farrington outlined the regeneration deal agreed with Michael Gove. Credit: Place Yorkshire

Farrington explained these would be in and around the city centre and showcased his authority’s success so far: “Leeds is in the top 1% in terms of housing delivery, slightly behind Manchester and Birmingham.”

He’s an avid watcher of the New Homes Bonus figures and says Leeds has the highest rate of delivery of affordable accommodation – one of the authority’s priorities – but he acknowledged the lengthy wait for social housing places.

“We have a massive challenge ahead,” he added. “We have a trajectory of delivery built up from an average of 450 a year to ahead of 600 a year. I expect, if not this year the year after, to be delivering 1,000 new affordable social homes a year.”

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Main Leeds spaces

Farrington listed the main regeneration neighbourhoods around the city centre – South Bank, Eastside, West End Riverside, Hunslet Riverside, Mabgate and Innovation Arc. The latter has a proposed £1.5bn of investment to link the university quarters, the hospitals and Holbeck.

He also highlighted the growing leisure scene, using a new park at Meadow Lane and international art installations as examples, then turned his focus to the South Bank and said: “It has two big cultural bookends. The first is Temple Mill and the proposal for British Library North, and the other end is the Royal Armouries. The Tiltyard is an opportunity to expand the conference and exhibition facilities, both for the Armouries’ cultural uses but also commercial opportunities, making the Royal Armouries the focus for West Yorkshire.”

Describing the South Bank, he said it was in south Leeds’ growth corridor, citing £16m of Levelling Up money for Holbeck, Leeds United football Club’s ‘stated intention’ to expand their ground at Elland Road, and opportunities on an adjoining 16 acres of brownfield land owned by the council.

Edward Highfield described the £160m West Yorkshire life sciences investment zone. Credit: PY

Investment zones

West Yorkshire has three specific geographical opportunities in its investment zones – Leeds, Huddersfield and Bradford. In relation to Leeds, Farrington also highlighted the transformation of the old medical school as part of a £50m project, also announced by Gove.

Meanwhile, Edward Highfield, director of skills and regeneration at Kirklees Council, said the West Yorkshire life sciences zone would see £160m of investment over 10 years.

Download Kirklees Council presentation

Transport triumphs

A huge area will benefit from the mass transit routes announced by the combined authority. Leeds, Bradford and Dewsbury were all highlighted as big beneficiaries of these schemes.

Farrington said that mass transit would receive £2bn of investment, with £2m already released, and a strategic case was being prepared: “2024 is due to be a big year as mass transit moves from a concept to a detailed proposition.”

In relation to Leeds Bradford Airport, passenger numbers are growing from four million to seven million a year, and it’s likely to become the 10th busiest in the UK with work underway on a bigger terminal. There are also 36 hectares of employment land next to it.

Highfield talked of upgrades to the Transpennine rail route, something he described as ‘massive for Kirklees’ with hundreds of land transactions required. He added: “Network Rail is spending £1m a day in Kirklees on a programme which is touching the whole length of the district.

“Many of you will say the challenge is not really speed, it’s reliability and connectivity and capacity. When it’s completed it will offer real advantages to places like Huddersfield and Dewsbury, giving the ability to work across the North but live where you grew up or in a town on the edge of the countryside rather than having to be in the big cities.”

Highfield said Kirklees was also making significant improvement in travel corridors and active travel too. However, he said ‘north-south connectivity left a lot to be desired’ with the Sheffield to Huddersfield route being ‘one of the worst in the country’: “It takes 20 minutes longer now than it did in 1981 and has got some of the worst rolling stock in the country.

“We’ve been working with the combined authorities and, with some encouragement from DfT, we put Levelling Up bids in. We were successful with round three so we’ve got £48m to upgrade the Penistone rail line. We’re working with Network Rail and we will be responsible for some of the upgrades to the stations.”

In Bradford, the new Southern Gateway interchange will cut journey times – and open up 126 hectares of development land.

On the map

Highfield explained his borough’s significant location between Manchester and Leeds, which it hopes to exploit more. He said the council was in the process of updating the local plan to look again at housing and employment.

He added: “Over the next couple of years we really need some conversations around land allocations.”

Elsewhere, he talked about a £1bn investment in Huddersfield which would be ‘reshaping the town’, and about an enterprise corridor from Huddersfield Station to its stadium which would ‘harness the power’ of the new university campus. Another project which he enthused about was the former gasworks land which has come in to council ownership and will be a high value employment site.

Dewsbury was one of the original Town Deals which saw it receive £46m of investment, plus £20m of Government endowment money. He said this was ‘bottom up’ regeneration, with the council as the enabler creating public private partnerships.

Amy Stanbridge of Henry Boot Construction sees good things happening in Sheffield. Credit: PY

Spotlighting Sheffield and Scarborough

Amy Stanbridge, director of Henry Boot Construction, was enthusiastic about Sheffield’s future. She said: “The announcements around the residential opportunities that are going to be made available at Neepsend and on the old ski village are a classic example of putting into action regeneration on brownfield sites and repurposing those areas to make the most of the wider city centre and making sure that we are creating those ‘places’ that make the best of the space that we have.

“Sheffield is not somewhere that in the past had lots of scope for significant residential development and it’s something the city is crying out for.”

David Rolinson, chairman of planning consultancy Spawforths, said his company’s projects in the city were reflecting society’s demands: “In Sheffield we’re focused on a large industrial and logistics site at Hesley Wood. We all want goods when we want them. We have to have logistics, we have to change the high street, so we also need those large employment areas.”

Adam Varley, development director of Scarborough Group International, outlined some of the challenges its namesake town of Scarborough is tackling. He said: “It’s a challenging location which suffers from too much retail, there’s no coherent high street or station link. We’ve had to take a really hard look at how we refurbish and recycle the product and not knock it down.”

He spoke specifically about the Brunswick Centre and “repositioning that asset” with an imminent announcement about a cinema.

Asked about funding, he added: “We take a collaborative approach – can the council help enable some development. It’s not about ‘can you take all that risk’ – there is an element of sharing that to unlock the viability of challenging projects.

“We are taking that approach, not just with projects in Scarborough. We have taken a similar approach in Sheffield looking at the Olympic Legacy Park. It’s about to go through a transformational planning-led process as an enabler to bring forward 1m sq ft of very specific health, elite sport focused knowledge park.”

Muse’s Simon Dew described Bradford as the original hotspot. Credit: Place Yorkshire

Blooming Bradford

Simon Dew, development director of Muse, said he had to talk about Bradford. “It was the essence of a hotspot in the 1900s,” he said. “It was the international centre for the wool trade and had the most millionaires outside London.

Download Simon Dew’s presentation

“It fell from fortunes and regeneration was somewhat sporadic. You’ll remember Westfield which lay undeveloped for many years. Fortunes changed in 2012 and a number of significant projects are now coming to fruition.”

He detailed the city’s £12bn economy, the 12th largest in England, which is “outpacing national growth”, with a highly qualified population and said the city’s excellent workforce potential was now being recognised: “Employers are looking at Bradford rather than defaulting to Leeds or Manchester.”

Specific sites he namechecked included One City Park completed by Muse in September last year, with PwC relocating there to take over half of the 56,000 sq ft building. He said discussions with major employers considering Bradford were plain: “What is clear is that a city has to offer excellent transport connections, vibrant retail and leisure and city centre living.”

Other vital developments he referenced were Bradford Live, a 4,000-seat venue: “A game changer for the leisure scene.” He also mentioned Darley Street Market, due to be completed this year, and the Transforming Cities Fund, which will see £24m dedicated to improving public realm and a district heat network. “This is an unprecedented level of investment and it’s key to city centre living.”

Meanwhile, plans for City Village will “act as a catalyst for the city centre” with 1,000 homes, safer roads, new green spaces and the revitalisation of independent businesses, retail and hospitality.

Hull wants to become a ‘weekend away’ destination, said Gill Osgerby. Credit: PY

Historic Hull

“We are sometimes the forgotten city and it’s a perception I don’t feel is fair,” said Gill Osgerby, programme director for major projects at Hull City Council, as she described its “challenging geography” on a peninsular at the end of the A63.

“We are a port city but have turned our back on the sea and our waterfront location and that’s something a lot of our projects are working on. We are a small city but we have large aspirations.”

Download Hull City Council presentation

Osgerby spoke about major development areas including Albion Square, on the vacant site of a former department store and large car park. The plan is for a £96m mixed-use scheme, slightly complicated by the need to retain the Listed Alan Boyson fishing industry mural. She said that had “added cost but added value”. The project includes homes and The Matrix, a legacy of Hull’s City of Culture year in 2017, which provided an artistic collaboration, practice and performance space.

She also outlined the benefits of an NHS diagnostic centre in bringing high end jobs and driving footfall from visitors from across East Riding.

Hull’s Osgerby discussed £7.5m of Levelling Up funding to address city centre vacancies, restoring 14 heritage buildings and creating 466 permanent jobs, in a scheme which completes this spring.

Over in the East Bank Urban Village, the local authority is making more of the waterfront with 850 energy efficient homes on three acres which will eventually connect to a district heating network. Hull Maritime is a unique project in Yorkshire which aims to increase the tourist offer through historic ships, a Passivhaus visitor centre and The Deep aquarium. “We want to change Hull from a day trip destination to a weekend away destination.”

Where to focus?

Spawforth’s David Rolinson saw growth in co-living, build to rent, student beds, social housing and the “consequences of societal change” such as logistics.

Henry Boot Construction’s Amy Stanbridge agreed, with industrial logistics, residential and urban redevelopment on her focus wishlist. She added: “How can we reshape what people come in to our city centres for and how do we create that mixture of different attractions? A lot of impetus is created by local authorities thinking very carefully about what it is that they want to deliver.”

In terms of towns to watch over the coming years, Stanbridge said Rotherham had historically suffered from under-investment but the local authority had got a new plan which was considering a variety of uses. Rolinson also praised Bradford and its aspirations to pull forward a lot of sites, and also earmarked North Yorkshire, as did Adam Varley of Scarborogh Group International, citing Harrogate and York as “tremendously affluent” where the local authorities had “a vision to unlock development that had otherwise not been viable”.

Join Place North at our next events

Place Young Things | 25 April

North West Rental Market | 9 May

Industrial & Logistics | 16 May

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Great event. Really positive insight into the plans to transform our communities. WSP were delighted to be a sponsor.

By Gary Ireland

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